The Sugar Land Skeeters are placing a big bet on gambling this season.
Actually, the Sugar Land Skeeters Foundation – the nonprofit organization that supports youth sports programs – will launch a 50-50 raffle at home games this season. Visitors to Constellation Field for Skeeters games will be able to purchase raffle tickets. A drawing will be held at the end of the seventh inning and the winner collects half the pot. The other half is split with the Skeeters getting 10 percent to administer the raffle and the foundation getting the remaining 40 percent.
“Fans can participate and buy as many tickets as they want,” said Marcie Zlotnik, co-owner of the Skeeters and a member of the foundation’s board of directors.
She said the winner will need to be present to claim their prize. As of press time, it was not yet decided what will happen with unclaimed prizes. Zlotnik said options include giving all of it to the foundation, rolling it over to the next game, or building up all unclaimed jackpots for a super raffle at the end of the season. It was also not yet decided how much the tickets would cost.
Two years ago the Texas Legislature passed a bill that allows the nonprofit foundations of professional sports teams to hold 50-50 raffles at sporting events. It specified the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball. The Zlotniks joined owners of other minor league teams in the state to lobby the Legislature to allow them the same opportunity since they are also professional sports franchises. The question was placed on the ballot last November and easily passed.
“To start off we will only take cash,” Zlotnik said, adding that they may move toward using debit/credit cards if fans prefer that.
Tickets will be sold at a booth near the front gate and there will be two roaming salespeople in the stands.
“We will update the scoreboard with amounts,” Zlotnik said.
She said the Skeeters will use the same type of raffle management software the Houston Astros and other teams use.
She is very optimistic about the potential of the raffle to raise money for the foundation.
“Other Atlantic League teams have reported making $20,000 in a season,” she said.
In addition to raising more money for the foundation, the raffle adds an element to attract more fans to the ballpark.
“You don’t have to play if you don’t want to,” she said. “Truly, it’s one of those fun win-wins for us.”
The money raised by the foundation is used to support youth sports programs in Fort Bend County through grants.
“Our mission is to give back to the youth of Fort Bend County,” she said.
The foundation helps fund youth leagues, game equipment, and facilities for children to play all types of sports.
“Every youth has the right for a safe place to play,” she said.
“We want to promote an active, healthy lifestyle,” said Assistant General Manager Kyle Dawson.
Executive Administrator Kailee Kubicek said the foundation considers eight to 10 grant requests a year and fulfills three to five of them. They try to spread the grant awards throughout the year.
“We try not to do everything all at once,” she said.
The foundation’s board of directors consists of 22 members, five of whom are non-voting members. Other fundraisers for the foundation include the Golf Fore Skeeters tournament and the annual kickball tournament.
For more information about the foundation, click on the foundation button at www.sugarlandskeeters.com.